Poetry during the pandemic

On March 21st I fled New York City with my wife and two children and headed for the old barn in Connecticut where I spent most of the weekends and summers of my childhood. What we thought would be only a week or two at most turned into 71 straight nights. That’s longer than I’d stayed in that house since the summer before I got my driver’s license.

After my birthday—I turned 55 on March 28th—I started doing reading two poems live on Facebook at 1 pm, when both of my children were most likely to be napping. I tried to read a new poem and an old poem every time, or a poem of mine and another by someone whose work I love like Naomi Shihab Nye, Billy Collins, Galway Kinnell, or Danusha Laméris. It didn’t always work out that way, but that was the plan. I would find a quiet place in the old barn and just . . . talk to a group of people that averaged about 30.

There were many regulars who began to recognize one another’s names. I posted a Metaphor Monday challenge using Metaphor Dice and encouraged folks to post video responses so some faces became familiar, too. If the broadcast went well and the wifi signal was strong throughout, then I posted the video to my timeline where it would usually pick up another couple hundred views.

This is all to say that the practice gave a structure to my day that I miss now that we are back in Brooklyn. So thank you if you were one of my regular viewers. I may return to doing live broadcasts again, but probably only weekly. If you’d like to watch any of the videos, you can access a list of all the poems I performed and the days that I performed them here.